The dreaded styrofoam wine shippers

September 6, 2013 – 11:33

More than a decade ago, I began sending out this request with my basic wine shipping address and contact information. Please – No styrofoam!!! I pleaded. Use cardboard shippers. Do not use any form of popcorn, even the stuff that is biodegradable.

At the time, believe it or not, this was revolutionary. I had only seen a couple of examples of recycled cardboard shippers. But I was already FED UP with the styrofoam stuff. A few boxes (about a day’s worth of samples) would fill up the trunk of my car. I’d collect them and drive them to wine shops that would re-use them for Dapoxetine Generic Cheap to someone else, who’d then be stuck with them. Kind of like the Christmas fruitcake that gets passed from house to house every year.

It soon became apparent that I couldn’t keep up. The amount of time I spend opening boxes, sorting wines, moving wines, organizing wines in tasting flights, opening wines, dumping wines, cleaning bottles, recycling bottles, breaking down cardboard boxes, recycling cardboard boxes is beyond belief. And none of that is time paid for, or gas paid for, or mileage paid for. The actual work – tasting wines, making notes, polishing notes, entering notes in the various articles and databases – that is even more time consuming.

So it struck me that perhaps I could shave a little time off the clock, and do something good for the environment, by requesting that no one ship me wines in styrofoam.

Slowly but surely, it has worked. At first a trickle, then a stream, and now a flood – after years and years of effort the vast majority of wines are shipped in recycled cardboard.

BUT – there are still those wineries that insist on styro. Because – they insist – it’s safer. It offers better protection. And up until now I had no retort. I could only point to my own practical experience. After hundreds upon hundreds of boxes of wine shipped in cardboard, I have never – not once – received damaged wine. Not a single bottle baked, not a single cork popped, not a single bottle broken.

But the real coup de grâce came in an e-mail a few weeks ago from McCrea Cellars’ Bob Neel. Bob is an engineer and scientist by trade, and he has the science facts at his fingertips. He wrote to confirm that my suspicions were completely true. Here’s what he said:

“GOOD FOR YOU!!! I can't believe people still use the stuff [styrofoam]. What cracks me up is the totally false notion that it protects the wine better. I'm about to write a letter to the editors of [XX Monthly] disabusing them of some key misconceptions that they sometimes claim:
1. Better thermal protection – Yeah, it takes longer for the wines to heat up inside that dark brown UPS truck, but then styro keeps them hot longer after the truck cools down. No net benefit. (This has been proven with experiments using instrumented shipments.)
2. (and this is a biggie). Better protection for the bottles. TOTAL B---S--T. The most damaging kind of mechanical stress occurs under the conditions of impact. It represents a very high spike of force, exerted over a very short duration. It actually amplifies the input energy by concentrating it. Example: you can shake the holy crap out of a wine glass without breaking it, but just don't drop it onto a hard surface – even gently (by ‘shake’ I mean a back-and-forth motion that simulates sinusoidal input.)
So what happens when you load up your $120/bottle of [cult cab] into styro? Pick up the box and shake it and guess what – it RATTLES. Each rattle is an impact. Brutally tough on the contents. No, it won't break the bottle because styro is a softer surface, but it sends a shock wave though the wine. Each rattle is a new shock wave.
And with the pulp shippers? Shake like crazy and nothing. Therefore no energy amplification/concentration. Actually, the pulp is soft enough to provide a bit of cushioning that absorbs some of the energy.”


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And I was in the cigar industry. Believe me, that's a dying breed. Mom and pop smoke shops simply can not compete with the major mail order players like Holts, Famous Smokes, Cigars 4 Less, etc. Big tobacco companies won't deal with you unless you do major volume and have the space to show like 50 boxes just of their brands. I was in a resort area and had people come in year after year who loved me and loved and supported my store...but then they'd just walk out with a single $10 cigar. That's not going to cut it, but why WOULD they buy from me when they can buy the same cigar from someone online and have it delivered to their door for less?
Don't even get me started on cigarettes

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They are the reason behind your cheap T-shirt and reasonably priced television. But who looks beyond a television now and sees the ship that carried .. The biggest container ship can carry 15,000 boxes.

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